The Long Way Home

Ley Line

“They found only half a house.”

I spent this past spring shooting photos for Ley Line, a group art project conceived by Justin Hopper and co-curated with Emily Walley. The show runs through June 30 and includes artwork by Justin, Emily,  David Bernabo/Host Skull; Nina Marie Barbuto, director of Assemble; Anne Roecklein and Ashley Andrykovitch. Assemble Gallery, 5125 Penn Ave. in Garfield.

If you can’t make it to the show, view the online gallery here.

Pittsburgh City Paper review of Ley Line.

A beautiful prose piece on my Wakefield and Ward Streets series  by Justin.

Behind-the-scenes of the project, before any of our ideas came to fruition.

“She was lost in another world.”


Impromptu Afternoon
November 25, 2011, 9:04 AM
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I spent Wednesday afternoon at my friend Kim’s house to talk about an upcoming project that involves a beach and an orchestra of fantastical instruments. But we found ourselves instead talking about life stuff over leftover pizza. I love when days take unexpected turns, and I especially love it when a friend lets me take photos around their home; I never know what I’m going to capture. Years before, I modeled for Kim and her creative partner Brent and their work inspired me to take my own photos. In this series, Kim and I passed my camera back and forth each time one of us had an idea, model and artist becoming one in the same.





In the Woods

Borrowing the title of a mystery novel, In the Woods chronicles my ongoing obsession with fairy tale-worlds. Years ago when I taught ESL to Bosnian refugees, one of my students described a forest as ‘deep trees.’ My breath caught when she said it. The literal translation from the Bosnian evokes images of serenity or fear, of hard rains or soft snow, of being hidden by a canopy of trees so thick you can’t hear your footsteps, just the sound of your breathing.

I found the place for this project by accident. Originally I went to see a garden in Youngstown featuring the Iron Curtain stations of the cross, but the symmetrical rows of pine trees captured me. It was like walking into a giant storybook, waiting for me to fill its pages. 

October Unblurred on Penn Avenue.

through the trees


ghost children


test shot: tree-stump tripod, 10-second timer


in flight




deep trees

Public Record Project

In July, Jeff and I are in Public Record, a multi-media exhibition curated by Justin Hopper that illustrates poetry written about crimes and gossip in Victorian Pittsburgh newspapers. I woke up at 7:30 this morning to take advantage of the early light, much to Jeff’s dismay. He was a crabby model, so pictures were challenging!

Photo shoots are much like writing a first draft of a story – I write and write to see where the characters take me before I revise, and with the camera, I take shot after shot, trusting the environment and the model to take me to unexpected places in my photo narratives. I love when the idea I set out with ends up being something completely different. 

These are some of the outtakes for “Dawn in the Big City: A Town Arises From its Slumbers.” 

the surprise

the gift

the discovery

"Walking home we passed a florist."

"Fresh flowers had just come in from the country"

"We stayed a moment to enjoy...."

Photo Booth Sunday
February 28, 2010, 12:58 PM
Filed under: Art Gallery | Tags: , , , , , ,

Jeff and I spent this morning working on our photo booth project. We had 3 props which we smuggled into the Warhol Museum via our Pan Am flight bag: an old telephone; a bunch of plastic grapes; and a creepy clear mask that Jeff bought at a Halloween store for fifty cents. We orchestrated the photos from my journal notes. There are 10 seconds between each frame in a photo booth, so getting these shots was challenging at times. 

hanging on the telephone


contemplating a beard shave


ghostly grapes


We tried to recreate the photo of my parents in Niagara Falls. I think we did a pretty good job.

mock parents

Dividing the Goose and the Art of Leisure

wojojlizcardslargeJeff and I are co-curators of “Dividing the Goose,” a multi-media fairy tales exhibition at Future Tenant in downtown Pittsburgh. The opening is September 18 and the show runs through October 17 featuring artwork by: Stephen Boyle, Alexandra Etschmaier, Kyle Ethan Fischer, T. Foley, Linnea Glick, Roya Hamadani, Ben Hernstrom, Michael Lotenero, Jody Perigo, Laura Vincent and Michael Vincent. Working with Kate, the FT director has been awesome  and I’m so excited to see all the pieces in one room, finally! 

The title of the show is from a Russian fairy tale — a peasant man must find a clever way to divide a goose among many people when there is only one to go around. After reading through all the artist statements, I can pretty much sum up in one sentence how fairy tales affected the artists’ works: Fairy tales scared the shit out of us as children. 

We haven’t been able to travel much all summer because Jeff received a Sprout Fund grant to paint a city mural in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Morningside (I’m so proud of him!).  And while my hubby is busy away working on various freelance projects, I’ve been sitting on the couch watching deliciously terrible films, not feeling inspired much to do anything. It’s summer, right? I’m allowed a creative vacation.

But this past Monday I finally picked up my lazy self and started working on the fairy tale photos I took at the beginning of the summer. It’s amazing how distance makes you see your artwork in a whole new way. I remember taking the photos in June and thinking a lot of them weren’t what I intended. After flipping through them the other night, a whole world opened to me, much like it does when I write stories and let them sit, then go back to them months – years sometimes – later. I should learn to apply what I know from writing to photography, but I still have a hard time making them connect. 

I want to thank Erica Stratton for finding my photo “morning ritual” on flickr and including it on The site has really beautiful, inspiring photography, so I felt honored to have one of my pieces on there. And thank you S. for encouraging me to submit my photo to the Silver Eye self-portrait exhibition – that helped get me back into photo stuffs again.

You can also find some of my other photos along with the secret Toboz-family stuffed cabbage recipe in issue #’s 8 and 9 of

Now that I’ve completed my shameless self-promotion, I’m going to watch more crappy movies this afternoon. I need a break from all of this typing.



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